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ST. PAUL…. This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the release of the iconic sports movie “Slap Shot”. I know of few people in or around the great game we love that haven’t seen this film. In fact, I can think of only one. And he has recently fixed that egregious situation. I saw the movie when it came out in 1977, got it on VHS format when that came out, got the DVD when that came out, got the 25th Anniversary edition when that came out and have probably purchased at least 12 copies for family and friends. And I’m sure that I am not alone in this. I have to believe that many fans of this movie have done exactly as I have.
I am thinking that I don’t have to go through the plot of the film and it’s many hilarious scenes for you. If you are reading a sports column I think you will already be well versed in all things Slap Shot, particularly if you hail from the State of Hockey. From favorite quotes like “puttin’ on the foil Coach”, to “*&%$ machine took my quarter” to “we’re looooossssssin’”, this historic film offers an insight into the rough and tumble world of minor league hockey of that era and one gut busting laugh scene after another. And you know, some films can receive critical acclaim but not do too well at the box office. Some do well at the box office after getting panned by the critics. This film was blasted by the critics of the time but didn’t fare too badly at the box office. But when the movie was released in VHS for home consumption it took off like a meteor.
And actually, it’s numbers are somewhat astounding when you consider them. You know that when something does really well on Amazon, it is a pretty big deal right? And then contemplate how many movies have been made over the past 50-60 years and how many are available on video or DVD and here is the tale of the tape; #3 in Movies & TV-DVD-Sports, #4 in Movies & TV-DVD-Comedy and #23 in Movies & TV-DVD-Action and Adventure. And then this crazy number, the film is #160 in Movies and TV overall! These are incredible to say the least! Amazon sells one heck of a lot of movies, so just consider those numbers for a moment and you can understand what type of a success this movie has been. I’m smiling and shaking my head at the same time just thinking about it.
And just as most fans of the film have their own favorite scene, I certainly have mine. I like the bus scene when the team is on their way to the next town for a game and some of the guys are engaged in a card game while the late, great Sonny James “Little bit South of Saskatoon” plays in the background. Little do the players know that some irritated fans have gathered to protest the teams arrival. Chaos prevails upon their entry into the city limits and mayhem ensues when the boys play the towns team the next night. There is an infinite number of quotes repeated in locker rooms all over the hockey world before games and practices. When I was coaching at the Mite level some of the kids were quoting from the movie when I asked them if they had actually seen the movie,
after all, the sheer volume of profanity in the film is over the top, one of the kids offered that his dad allowed him to watch the film. When I inquired about the foul language in the movie the kid said to me that his dad told him that he could watch the movie but shouldn’t talk like that until he gets to Squirts!
The film correctly captures the essence of the era and minor league hockey of the time in a way that all hockey people can relate to. It’s rough and raunchy, salty and sweet, and will leave you thoroughly entertained at movies end. My last final best scene, when GM Joe McGrath (Strother Martin) comes into the room all distraught because the Chiefs are losing in their Championship tilt and clearly not playing “their” game and launches into a minute long tirade is as funny as it gets. The movies iconic Hanson Brothers are quoted as saying that scene took 12 takes because someone would invariably bust out laughing while Martin was delivering his lines. Actor Paul Newman, the famed “Reg Dunlop” character, has said that in his entire career, he never had more fun then in making this movie. Well Paulie, no matter how much fun you and the crew had, I doubt that it could match up with how much fun us fans of the film have had. It just isn’t possible….
THE MINNESOTA WILD COME UP big before the trade deadline! Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has made a trade with the AZ Coyotes to obtain coveted center Martin Hanzal.
Hanzal has been one of the most frequently mentioned trade targets for the last several months. The club also got Ryan White in exchange for some draft picks. The team parted with their 2017 1st round pick, 2018 2nd, a conditional 2019 pick and a minor league player. Some analysts immediately decried the deal saying that Fletcher gave up too much. But the reality is that it will be awhile before that can be gauged. This years entry draft is said to be weak, a 2nd rounder next year isn’t tough considering what the team has in it’s prospect pipeline, so I’m not wringing my hands. If the team has playoff success this year you could say it was worth the price. If they don’t, and then if they don’t ink Hanzal to a new deal over the summer, then it would be fair to say that the deal didn’t work out. My jury is out.
While I’m not a draft or trade day geek, I have thought about this for the last week. Many clubs were in pursuit of Hanzal and I didn’t think the Wild would be in on him. I have seen him play for the Yotes many times and have always been impressed with his play. I also wondered if the team would stand pat or make a big statement this week. Well, our answer has arrived and I have a very positive feeling about it. Welcome to Marty and to Whitey as well! Best of luck boys! PEACE!